I have been photographing this pair of peregrine falcons for the last 4 years but I don’t think I’ve been treated to such an acrobatic flying display in perfect conditions quite like what I enjoyed last week.
Just after I had set myself up in a carefully-chosen position, both birds came back to the nest carrying food. Shortly after, the female took off again carrying the remains of a bird in her huge talons. She climbed higher and higher and then without warning, dropped the food, tucked herself into a stoop and followed it towards the cliffs below.
Now, you’re probably asking why I don’t have better pictures but following the fastest animal in the world with a lens equivalent to a 728mm (400mm plus a 1.4x teleconverter on a 1.3x crop camera body) is just about manageable when soaring but such erratic flight takes a true master and, I must admit, my technique hasn’t been kept up to scratch. Still, it was good practice for my forthcoming trip to Scotland and it has whet my appetite for a return to the site once the chicks have fledged.
Peregrines have become a symbol of conservation success since their recovery from persecution and pesticide poisoning, which peaked in the 1960’s. Their tendency to nest on high-rise buildings in towns and cities across the UK has also helped to engage a large sector of the UK’s urban public by showing that you don’t have to travel into the countryside to find awe-inspiring wildlife.